VP Message - COVID-19 Update - March 30, 2020

Dear DSA team,

I hope that all of us are settling into a routine, as much as we can, during this new “normal” we find ourselves in.

Folks, I wish I knew for all of our sakes when we can begin to move back to our regular routines, but I continue to take heart in the fact that you are all out there working hard for our students every day.

Some updates:

Continuity of Staffing

  • Our offices are now staffed by essential personnel where needed. Any physical traffic is limited to the few students we still have on-campus. Click here to see DSA department’s adjusted hours.
  • Any staff physically in the office should not feel the need to meet face-to-face with a student who comes in unless they are comfortable doing so and can ensure spatial separation and other safety precautions. If a student comes in and staff would feel more comfortable asking them to jump on an office computer for a virtual meeting, that is permissible.
  • Record any COVID-19-related work since March 13 on your timesheet using the specially designated codes “REGER – Regular Earnings Emergency” or “RHWER – Regular Hours Worked Emerg” for salaried and hourly employees, respectively. Learn about UNT time reporting guidelines for this COVID-19 crisis.
  • I know some of you may be experiencing your own struggles during this difficult time. Our Employee Assistance Program provides access to free virtual counseling sessions.
  • Student employees can telecommute and they can be deemed essential personnel. Please remember student assistants will need to have a work plan in place detailing what duties they will be performing remotely.
  • Students with federal or state work-study, who are not able to work on-campus or telecommute will still be paid through May 15. We do not want to displace these students because it was part of the aid package. Departments will still be responsible for the 30% they typically pay. This only affects work-study students.
  • If you no longer have work for some of your student employees, please refer them to the Career Center. They are working to move students to available positions. Supervisors can communicate with Patricia Chastain at patricia.chastain@unt.edu or 940-565-2105 about students you are seeking to reassign.

Responding to Student Needs

  • Today begins the second week of online classes for our students. Urge students with questions regarding their classes to reach out to their professors. You can find FAQs for students here.
  • Willis Library will remain open, with limited operations.
  • Residence halls and dining services, along with the Student Health and Wellness Center clinic, will continue operating – with social distancing in mind for those students who wish to remain in our care.
  • For students with questions regarding the housing prorated refund and dining credits please have themhttps://sfs.unt.edu/housing-credit-faq for more information.
  • With the National Guard being activated, we may have some students called in. If a student lets you know they are being called to duty, please let the Dean of Students Office know and they will handle coordination.
  • Please keep driving folks to our Parent and Family Hotline at 844-366-5892. The hotline is available 10 a.m. to 2. p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • If you know of a student experiencing financial need, encourage them to submit an application for emergency funding through Start Green, Stay Green. As always, you also can contact SMMC or DOS as usual. SOS will continue to respond to individual student issues and needs and direct services accordingly.
  • ODA remains the contact for any students who need accommodations. They are working through accessibility issues for virtual learning with Academic Affairs and are available to respond to questions as needed.
  • Counseling continues to be available for all students.

Continuity of Communications

  • We are curtailing routine communications such as In the Know to clear channels for the most urgent emails. 
  • Until communication regarding COVID-19 to our students and parents decreases, please run your social media posts through Brady Burns and Amy Armstrong. This is not in an attempt to police what you are posting, but to make sure our efforts are coordinated. Amy and Brady also will have an idea of future communications that may be going out to ensure your message isn’t lost in the shuffle.
  • If you have specific questions, please funnel these through your direct report. This will allow us to best coordinate communications. 
  • All media inquiries related to Coronavirus should be sent to Leigh Ann Gullett in UBSC Leigh.Gullett@unt.edu.
  • Please check https://healthalerts.unt.edu/ for all the latest updates from the University.
  • All questions can be directed to Amy Armstrong, 940.565.2464 or amy.armstrong@unt.edu

Kudos

If you know of staff members who are going above and beyond during this time, please email student.affairs@unt.edu describing their effort. We want to highlight some of these examples as we discuss how we have come together as a caring campus community to respond to this health crisis.  These also will be sent to the president for use on a campus level.

  • As of March 26, the Parent and Family Hotline had responded to 455 phone calls. Thank you to all of our volunteers!
  • Massive kudos to the DSA IT team, and specifically Matt Trammel, for helping get Student Legal Services working remotely with such short notice and some pretty major technological hurdles. The IT team has been so kind and gracious through all of this.
  • A parent shared with Housing that Rachel Jackson and Laurel Spurgeon were a huge help to his family while moving their daughter out.
  • Shout-out to the staff at the Student Health and Wellness Center who have been on the front-lines of the COVID-19 crisis from the start. They continue to go above and beyond in their dedication to our students.
  • Kudos to Sophie Stancil, a student group exercise instructor at the Pohl Rec Center. Sophie has continued her regular teaching schedule online giving members a much-needed outlet for their stress and anxiety.
  • Shout-out to Pete Beaulieu, assistant director in Housing, for being flexible in adjusting and increasing services based on ever-changing needs. 
  • Thanks to Tiffanie Trueblood, utilities billing specialist in Facilities Support and Services, for getting additional dumpsters to the residence halls to assist with move-out.
  • Thank you to all the in-hall housing staff for all that they have been doing for the students and their buildings!
  • Kudos to Kerry Stanhope who arranged for a local food pantry to use the SHWC tents when he heard they were having trouble feeding people inside their facility while keeping social distancing rules in place.

Wow! Seeing all of these leaves me feeling inspired and grateful for what you all have done and continue to do each day.

Take care,

Elizabeth With Ed.D.

Vice President for Student Affairs